Learning How to Cavity-Proof Your Smile

If you’ve ever had a cavity, you know the appeal of never having another one again. Hopefully, yours needed no more than a filling to cover the small hole caused by tooth decay, but many people require a root canal procedure or even tooth extraction. Tooth decay prevention is rather limited to brushing, flossing, and dental checkups and cleanings, and for the most part these measures suffice when adhered to diligently. However, we all slack in our daily hygiene routines now and then, and often that slacking leads us from prevention to repair. Yet, experts believe that dynamic may change with the discovery of a molecule that can drastically reduce the prevalence of tooth decay and cavities.

Battling Tooth Decay

Contrary to popular belief, sugar in itself is not the root cause of tooth decay. The actual villain is a bacteria found in your plaque called Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans). This bacterium digests the food you eat, mainly sugars. As a result of this digestion, S. mutans secretes lactic acid over the surface of your teeth, which attacks your enamel and robs your teeth of much-needed minerals. Before humans began refining sugar, our saliva contained more than enough bicarbonate (an alkaline substance) to neutralize this acid production. With the advent of the human refining process came S. mutans’ insatiable hunger for refined sugar, and acid production became too much for our saliva to handle. Now, the discovery of a new molecule can turn the tide of battle once again in our favor.

The S. mutans Destroyer

Jose Cordoba of Yale University, alongside Erich Astudillo from Universidad de Santiago in Chile, has been trying to find an innovative method for fighting tooth decay since 2005. Their diligence paid off in the discovery of a molecule that targets and kills the Streptococcus mutans bacteria within 60 seconds and continues its work for a couple of hours after application. They have named the molecule “Keep 32,” in reference to the number of teeth a healthy mouth normally has. Cordoba and Astudillo already have a patent pending and are hoping to begin testing on human subjects soon, once their funding is secured. The beauty of Keep 32 is that it can be applied to any dental product, such as toothpaste or mouthwash, or added to candies and chewing gum to promote its use among children.


Dr. Shawn Hofkes and the staff at Cerritos Dental Surgery are highly qualified to address complex issues, including those that require oral surgery to correct. To schedule an appointment or consultation with Dr. Hofkes, contact us today by calling 562-584-4082. We proudly serve patients of all ages from Cerritos, Lakewood, Long Beach, Buena Park, and all surrounding communities.